£100 million fund will help firms develop technology

The Technology Strategy Board, a government sponsored body set up to promote innovation, today launched a £100m plan to get British companies to develop...

The Technology Strategy Board, a government sponsored body set up to promote innovation, today launched a £100m plan to get British companies to develop new products and services in health, defence, transport and construction.

The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) aims to fund companies to develop a product, in response to needs identified by the public sector.

"The idea is that the companies will develop a product or technology that meets the public sector organisation's need (e.g. the MOD want lightweight equipment for soldiers).  Once it is developed, it can be taken to market and would be open to competitive procurement," said a spokesman.

The TSB said it could not predict how much might go to ICT projects, nor to small businesses. "It depends on what ideas are suggested," a spokesman said.

The queries and answers could come from any sector and could relate to a new material, new electronic or electrical device, new ICT system or whatever, he said.

Under the scheme the intellectual property that arises rests entirely with the company that developed it.

The best or most relevant proposals would then be offered contracts to develop the idea. A successful initial feasibility period would be followed by a full-scale product development contract of up to two years and £1m, he said.

The spokesman was unsure of how much would actually go to SMEs- "We would certainly encourage applications from them," he said. "SMEs often have great ideas but do not have the resources to develop them into viable products; this scheme will pay them to do that development."

He said despite the scheme's name the TSB could not stop large companies from applying.

He said the intention was to get new products and services to a point where they could tender for commercial business.

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